Jeffrey Okudah became a five-star recruit and a freshman contributor at Ohio State without being fully healthy.

The cornerback is still recovering after undergoing shoulder surgery in January to repair a torn labrum. His spring practice participation is limited to individual drills.

“It’s definitely been hard, but at the same time I feel sometimes you have to take some steps back in order to go forward,” Okudah said Wednesday. “I had that mentality dealing with this injury.”

He has played through the injury for so long that he’s not sure what to expect when he returns.

“I played with this injury senior year of high school, my junior year of high school and my freshman year at Ohio State,” Okudah said. “I’m kind of interested to see if there will be a change in performance now that I’m getting back to being fully healthy.

“I think it’ll definitely give a lot of confidence. You can go out and play knowing your body feels good.”

Ohio State used a three-cornerback rotation the past few years under Kerry Coombs. New cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson wants to share the load as well. Okudah and fellow returnees Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield figure to be at the top of the pecking order.

Johnson hasn’t been able to work with Okudah much on the field, but he already has been impressed from being around the Texan and watching video from last year.

“He’s such a smart young man,” Johnson said. “He’s tough. He’s a guy who has game experience. He’s long. He can do a lot of good things. I’m definitely excited.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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